Syrupy dialogue clogs big-hearted 'New Life'
The hope-infused family drama "New Life" possesses a huge heart with its arteries seriously clogged by narrative cholesterol in the form of gooey voice-over narration.
Benjamin Morton (Jonathan Patrick Moore) narrates a well-intentioned chronicle of his life, posing profound philosophical observations that sound profoundly obvious. ("It's all the moments," we learn, "both good and bad, that make up a life!")
Since he moved from England to the States as a kid, Ben has been in love with his cute neighbor, Ava (played as a teen by Orland Park's Sophia Ntovas, then as an adult by "Fireproof" star Erin Bethea).
Their friendship takes a deeper turn in adolescence, and, after hitting a few bumps in life's winding road, they marry and set out to raise a family.
"New Life" takes a dark "Love Story" detour after Ava suffers a miscarriage. (Cue the obligatory rainstorm when events turn truly sad.)
Narrator Ben continues commenting on the obvious ("I lost track of what's important!") and lets no feeling be expressed by his face when he can simply describe it.
The screenplay (cowritten by Bethea and director Drew Waters with two others) offers no easy Hollywood epiphanies, such as Dustin Hoffman's abrupt change in "Kramer vs. Kramer."
Ben fails (as many men do) to balance his life between business and wife. He struggles long and hard to correct it. And slowly, he does.
"It seems like a lot of work for true love!" Ben's pal Bill (James Marsters) says.
Yes, true love requires hard work, one of many lessons underscored and italicized in "New Life," from Argentum Entertainment, created by Bethea and Waters to distribute family-friendly stories of affirmation and hope.
The cast includes beloved, two-time Jefferson-Award-winning (former) Chicago actress Irma P. Hall as Margaret; the venerable Bill Cobbs as an elderly font of compassion, wisdom and reassurance; plus "Lost" star Terry O'Quinn as a laconic oncologist, a deviation from his best screen performance as a paternal serial killer in the original "The Step-Father."
This veteran trio wisely thins the viscosity of the syrupy dialogue, leaving Moore with the unenviable task of informing us that "The most important thing we can do in life is to live it!"
"New Life"★ ★
Starring: Jonathan Patrick Moore, Erin Bethea, James Marsters, Terry O'Quinn, Bill Cobbs
Directed by: Drew Waters
Other: An Argentum Entertainment release. At the South Barrington 30. Rated PG. 88 minutes